Category Archives: Categories

Westport’s School Daze

Earlier this month, I gave a tour of Staples High School to the 50th reunion class of 1964.

Dozens of Social Security recipients — many of whom looked like they could still fit into their varsity letter jackets or cheerleading skirts — wandered wide-eyed through a 3-story building filled with Wi-Fi, whiteboards, and enough flat-screen TVs to make Best Buy go gaga.

The address was familiar: 70 North Avenue. But in the half-century since they graduated, the school underwent several major changes. Besides athletic fields, the auditorium and the JFK “Ask not…” plaque — a gift of that class to the school — there’s little they recognized.

Staples is an extreme example. But nearly every Westport school has been renovated — or at least reconfigured — since it was built.

In honor of the 1st week of school, here’s a look back at how our 8 schools got where they are.

The original Staples High School on Riverside Avenue.

The original Staples High School on Riverside Avenue.

Staples High School. The first classes were held in the National Hall building — the red brick structure across the Post Road bridge from downtown — because Horace Staples’ Riverside Avenue school was not yet ready. That structure — located approximately where the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium is today — opened on October 31, 1884.

In 1937, a 2nd building opened just north of the 1st. It’s now the central unit of Saugatuck El (minus the gym and cafeteria wing). That 2nd addition was added in 1948.

The "modern" Staples -- now Saugatuck Elementary School.

The “modern” Staples — now Saugatuck Elementary School.

Ten years later, Staples moved to its present North Avenue site. The sparkling new school included 7 buildings, connected only by open-air walkways. Three more buildings were constructed 5 years later. It was great in the early fall and late spring, not so smart the rest of the year.

The 1st version of the North Avenue campus: 6 separate buildings.

The 1st version of the North Avenue campus: 7 separate buildings.

Later, in a 3-year project ending beginning in 1978, the 9 separate buildings were connected. That version of Staples lasted until 2005, when the $74 million current school — built while the old one was being demolished — opened for business.

Bedford Middle School. For 42 years starting in 1884, 7th through 9th graders attended the same small original Staples on Riverside Avenue. In 1926 they moved across Doubleday Field to a new “Bedford Junior High” (now Kings Highway Elementary School). In 1958, BJHS took over the recently vacated Staples on Riverside Avenue. It was renamed Bedford Middle School in 1983, when Staples became a 4-year high school. Then, in the 1990s, it too moved all the way across town. A sparkling new Bedford rose just north of Staples, on the site of a former Nike missile base. The only connection it has to the 1st school is a bust of its original namesake, Edward T. Bedford.

Coleytown Middle School. First opened in 1965 as Westport’s 3rd junior high school, Coleytown looked like the most futuristic school imaginable. Debates raged for years as to whether the circular design worked or not. (Architect Joseph Salerno’s building was, however, selected for a national exhibition on school design.) It became a middle school in 1983, and more than a decade later underwent a substantial renovation.

Coleytown Junior High (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Coleytown Junior High (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Coleytown Elementary School. Despite one renovation, this school has not changed much since it opened in the early 1950s. It’s got its original bones — and it’s always been an elementary school.

Green’s Farms Elementary School. It looks like it’s been there on South Morningside forever. Though it has, the current building is much larger than the original. And it was on hiatus for a while in the 1980s and ’90s, when our school population dipped substantially. In those years, the building served as home to the Westport Arts Center.

Kings Highway Elementary School. Until 1958, this building was the site of Bedford Junior High. That year, it became an elementary school. If you look closely, you can still see the “Bedford” name over the front door.

Long Lots Elementary School. Opened in 1955 as Westport’s 2nd junior high, it has undergone numerous renovations and changes. It’s morphed from a junior high to a K-8 school, and now it’s just an elementary school. The northernmost wing burned to the ground in 1974, in a fire set by an 8th grader.

Long Lots, when it was junior high.

Long Lots, when it was a junior high.

Saugatuck Elementary School. Riverside Avenue — home of the old Staples High and Bedford Junior/Middle School — is the 2nd location for Saugatuck El. For nearly a century it sat on Bridge Street, where the Saugatuck elderly housing complex is now. Its original name was the Bridge Street School.

In memoriam:  

Bedford Elementary School. A handsome building on Myrtle Avenue near the center of town, it was repurposed 30 or so years ago as Town Hall.

Burr Farms Elementary School (approximately 1958-83). Perhaps the cheapest, most hastily built school in the history of education. Made of steel (perhaps tin), it was nonetheless a great place (and, not coincidentally, my alma mater). Today it is the site of homes and athletic fields, near the start of Burr School Road off Long Lots.

Burr Farms Elementary School (computer image by Steve Katz)

Burr Farms Elementary School (computer image by Steve Katz)

Hillspoint (approximately 1960-85). Some brainiac had the idea of putting the gym in the center of a circular building. Noise problems, anyone? Today it’s a childcare center on Hillspoint Road.

(Got any good — or bad — memories of your Westport school building? Click “Comments” below. Please include your real name — and graduation date.)

 

 

John McGrath: You CAN Go Home Again

The new face of Westport includes many young families. Parents are in their 30s or 40s; their kids are in elementary school, or even younger.

Many have moved from New York. Others come from around the country. There are plenty of internationals too.

But a surprising number of “newcomers” are actually “old-timers.” They’re men and women who grew up in Westport, then left for college and careers. Now — at an age their own parents might have been when they moved here — these Staples grads are moving back, with their tots in tow.

The reasons vary: a desire for their kids to be close to grandparents. The lure of schools and beaches. A wish for their children to have the same type of growing-up experiences they did.

Some of the returnees always figured they’d move back. Some thought, never in a bazillion years.

John and Danielle McGrath, and their kids.

John and Danielle McGrath, and their kids.

John McGrath is one of the boomerang gang. A Coleytown Elementary and Middle School student who graduated from Staples in 1995, he continued his football career at Trinity College.

He soon became a successful New York bond trader. He and his wife Danielle bought a weekend home in Westport in 2008, when their daughter was born. In 2012 they moved here full-time, near the beach.

“I loved Westport when I was growing up,” John says. “It felt like my friends and I were always outside, playing soccer or baseball. Those are my earliest memories.”

As they got older, John says, the hangouts became Compo and Longshore. Describing his youth to colleagues who lived elsewhere, he realizes “how much there was to do here. I’m so proud I had the chance to grow up here.”

Now, as an adult, he’s thinking about other things: excellent schools, relatively low property taxes. But the amenities are still very, very important.

There's no place like Compo for kids.

There’s no place like Compo for kids.

Danielle grew up in southern Jersey, outside Philadelphia. Moving to her husband’s hometown, she was nervous that his friends would have to be hers. (Several of John’s best Westport friends have moved back to the area too.)

But she met a great group of people through schools and their kids’ activities. (Their daughter is 5; their son is 3.)

Now, John says, “she’s more popular in town than I ever was.”

Danielle also worried about leaving New York’s restaurants and cultural scene behind. She’s discovered plenty of good restaurants and culture here.

The Westport Country Playhouse helps anchor our cultural life.

The Westport Country Playhouse helps anchor our cultural life.

Some things have not changed. Westport Pizzeria is still in town (though it moved around the corner). Compo and Longshore are still fantastic.

Other things have changed somewhat. John’s daughter will attend Green’s Farms Elementary — a school that was closed when he was growing up. Staples is a new building, twice the size of the old. Bedford Middle School is new too.

John’s daughter skates at Longshore — the rink there is a new addition — and he hopes she’ll learn to sail at John Kantor’s nearby school. (“I never sailed,” John notes.) His kids may also be involved in music or theater, activities John never did. “There are so many options,” he says. “I just want them to be happy.”

“Westport still has the hometown feel,” John adds. “But there have definitely been upgrades, to move with the times.”

Then there’s Elvira’s. “We’re in there 2 or 3 times a day,” he says. “They know my kids — they know everyone’s kids. It’s awesome.”

Elvira's: the heartbeat of the Old Mill neighborhood.

Elvira’s: the heartbeat of the Old Mill neighborhood.

So — 35 years down the road — does John hope his daughter and son follow their father and grandparents’ lead, and move to Westport?

“I hope they travel, and experience a lot of different places,” John says. “If they decide in the end on Westport, that would be great.

“People call me a townie,” he concludes. “I lived for 15 years in New York, and I really appreciate that.

“But I chose to come back to Westport. And I’m glad I did.”

After-School Bus Service: Uh-Oh…

1st Selectman Jim Marpe today issued the following report, on the Westport Transit District’s after-school bus program:

After 30 years of successfully operating this service, the Federal Transit Administration recently determined that the after-school bus service provided by the Norwalk Transit District — Westport’s bus service operator — is considered an unauthorized public transit service route.

Because the stops and clientele involved only students, the FTA deemed the service “equivalent to a school bus service” and thus “non-compliant” with Federal transit regulations. Westport was given 30 days to become compliant or lose federal funding (65% of program costs) for the service, and the use of the buses.   With the start of the school year upon us, this decision took us by surprise, especially since the program had recently passed its triennial review.

Since receiving this disappointing notification, which potentially affects over 200 families and several hundred students, we have been actively working with our transit directors and state and federal representatives to first, seek a stay of this ruling and second, request an extension which would allow the funding and service to continue until January 1. State Representative Jonathan Steinberg has been particularly helpful in coordinating the legislative delegations and federal offices.

FTA logo

We hoped this extension would provide a reasonable amount of time for the Town and programs to see if it is possible to become “compliant,” while still safely serving our students, or explore and develop alternatives to the current system.

Senators Blumenthal and  Murphy and Congressman Himes also jointly signed a letter supporting Westport’s request for an extension, citing that ending this service will cause hardship to the many families and students who rely on it.

FTA regional administrator Mary Beth Mello had stated that she would provide Westport with a response to its extension request by today. Unfortunately, it was not the response we were hoping for. Ms. Mello informed us that the FTA determined “there was no mechanism for an extension in their regulations,” and denied our request.

However, Mello introduced a new appeal concept not previously mentioned to Westport, which she termed “applying for a waiver.” This entails publicly advertising for bid the potential after-school routes to private bus companies, combined with other outreach efforts. It also requires documenting these efforts and obtaining written responses that the contacted companies were not interested in providing this service, or would not provide it at a “reasonable” price.

The Norwalk Transit District operates Westport's buses.

The Norwalk Transit District operates Westport’s buses.

Marpe told Mello that Westport had already made a fairly exhaustive effort via phone to contact a long list of known companies in our area that provide such services. No company was interested at the time, or had the capacity to provide the needed service on short notice. This oral confirmation of our effort, however, did not satisfy the FTA since it requires substantial written confirmation of lack of interest in order to approve the waiver application.

We have made the determination that it is still in Westport’s best interest to try to apply for this waiver application. Working with the NTD, we will make our utmost effort to rapidly proceed with the required advertising and outreach. We will prepare the necessary documentation to present to the FTA for its approval. If it is approved, the NTD will then be able to restart our service for an as yet undetermined length of time.”

As you can surmise, even if we are able to accomplish the required “waiver” tasks in a very ambitious time frame, it is unlikely that we would receive waiver approval from Washington before the start of the school year. While I like to be optimistic, the likelihood of Westport receiving a waiver approval at the Washington level is unknown at this time.

Given this unfortunate situation, I am advising the after-school programs and parents that the bus service will almost certainly not be available for the start of the program year, and alternative travel plans should be put into place. We know this will be a hardship and may be more costly for many parents.

We will continue to work hard to resolve this issue. Hopefully, we will be able to obtain a waiver and have the bus service restored at some point during the fall.

EMTs Bike For Your Life

Four years ago, our July 4th fireworks were marred by a cardiac arrest. Enormous crowds kept Westport’s Emergency Medical Service from getting an ambulance to the patient as rapidly as they would like.

For years, sitting around the day room, EMTs had talked about forming an EMS bike team. Spurred by that unfortunate incident, Mike Salvatore — a paid EMS crew chief and paramedic already certified by the International Police Mountain Bike Association — began seeking funds.

An EMS biker, in action.

An EMS biker, in action.

That first year there were a few members who, like Mike, were previously certified. Last year he brought in an IPMBA instructor. Last month, a 2nd Westport team went through the process.

There are now 10 certified members. Each specialty mountain bike has emergency lights and a siren.

Each carries 40 pounds of essential medical and trauma equipment, including oxygen and a defibrillator.

Bike teams — a minimum of 2 members each — work a wide variety of events, including road races, parades, Taste of Saugatuck and the fireworks (where they were crucial early responders during another cardiac arrest).

The bikes take a huge beating. The ones purchased 3 years ago are in desperate need of repair and/or replacement.

The bike fleet.

The bike fleet.

Like all of EMS, the bike teams fundraise for their needs. Their goal is $20,000.

That covers the maintenance of current bikes, and the purchase of new bikes, equipment and specialized uniforms.

Donations can be sent to: Westport EMS, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880. Put “Bike Team” on the memo line. Online, click the PayPal button at http://www.westportems.org/donate, and list “Bike Team” in the “Honor/Memory of” section.

Then hope you never have to see EMTs biking up to take care of you.

Though if you do, your contribution will insure that they’ll be there very, very quickly.

MadisonMott’s Move: A Win For Company, Community

Two years ago, when Luke Scott moved MadisonMott — his red-hot marketing/design firm — from South Norwalk to Saugatuck, it was like coming home.

The business was born here, and occupied 2 Post Road locations before heading to a converted mill in trendy SoNo.

Luke grew up here too, on Bridge Street — almost within sight of MadisonMott’s new Ketchum Street location.

madisonmott logoStill, moving into the old Mecklermedia building carried risks. Luke knew he’d have plenty of space, lots of light, and blazing fast internet. But the Saugatuck redevelopment was still in mid-construction. The promise of a cool, vibrant community was not yet reality.

What a difference 2 years makes.

Gault — the Saugatuck developer — “gave us space to build around our culture, our people and our vision,” Luke says.

Luke Scott, conducting a meeting right outside the MadisonMott office.

Luke Scott, conducting a meeting right outside the MadisonMott office.

(Full disclosure: I’ve known Luke since the late 1980s, when I coached him in soccer. He’s now a great friend, and a collaborator. MadisonMott created StaplesSoccer.com, which has been called [ahem] “the best high school sports website in the country.”)

Saugatuck Center is a place of people and vision, Luke notes. It’s been designed as an interactive, eating, shopping — and definitely walking — community.

“We loved SoNo,” Luke says. “We were leaving a place rich with dining, shops and transportation options.” They found all that — and more — in Saugatuck. “This has totally exceeded our expectations.”

The large parking lot is a bonus. So is the nearby train station. Luke, co-owner Kristen Briner or a colleague will meet a client or potential hire there. By the time they’ve finished the short walk to Ketchum Street, the visitor is inspired: by the area, and MadisonMott’s presence. (They’re further wowed by the firm’s open, collaborative floor plan — and ping pong table.)

The company bought 2 bikes. Any employee can borrow one. They use them to pick up coffee or lunch, or just ride along to the mini-park on Riverside Avenue for a break.

Jessica Trimble and Mike Barnes return from a coffee run.

Jessica Trimble and Mike Barnes return from a coffee run.

A couple of folks live in Black Rock. They bike from home to work and back, along the scenic Southport Beach/Burying Hill/Green’s Farms route.

The other day, the entire staff celebrated the launch of the company’s new website by singing karaoke at the Duck.

A patio with grill at the back of the MadisonMott office is another hangout. One client is located in an adjacent building. “They come in through the back door,” Luke says.

But it is the Saugatuck community that has really been key to the move’s success.

From the restaurants — the Whelk, Tarry Lodge, Tutti’s and all the others — to Craft Butchery, Saugatuck Sweets, 99 Bottles and Downunder, there’s a vibe that encourages friendliness, community and creativity.

The MadisonMott staff (with Luke Scott's son Jasper, green shirt).

The MadisonMott staff (with Luke Scott’s son Jasper, green shirt).

“We’re locals now, and we’re on a first-name basis with the other locals,” Luke says. “And it’s incredible how much high-level business is being done around here. There are a lot of young, creative people thriving in this area. It’s not urban or suburban. It’s a unique place — and it’s right on the water.”

Luke — whose 1st job was at the old Peter’s Bridge Market — has a special perspective. He’s a former area resident whose business now thrives there.

“As a teenager, you shun the idea of a ‘hometown,'” he says. “With a company like this, you spend a lot of time together, in an office. We are very lucky to call this ‘home.'”

Katharine Ordway’s Peaceful Preserve

Katharine Ordway was one of those very wealthy, very impressive, semi-mysterious people who lived quietly among us, back in the day.

Her father bought 60% of the stock of a struggling mining company later known as 3M — not a bad career move. She graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota with degrees in botany and art, and later studied biology and land-use planning at Columbia.

Katharine Ordway was equally at home in social settings and outdoors.

Katharine Ordway was equally at home in social settings and outdoors.

After inheriting part of an $18.8 million estate — real money in 1948 — she became (according to Macalester College) second only to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. as “a private contributor to natural area conservation in American history.”

The quiet woman  helped save over 31,000 acres of Great Plains prairies, a few Hawaiian islands, and land in many other parts of the country. She is revered by the Nature Conservancy for her philanthropy, commitment and foresight.

She lived for decades in a beautiful home off Goodhill Road in Weston. Today, 62 acres behind her estate comprise the Katharine Ordway Preserve. It’s wooded, riparian (the Saugatuck River runs through it), and very peaceful.

It’s also a secret. Though it was opened in 1979 — the year she died — even some neighbors don’t know it’s there.

A spirited group of nature-lovers do, though. Working with the Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut chapter, they’ve contributed hundreds of man (and woman) hours to the preserve. They’ve cleared brush, removed invasive species, planted specimen trees, created a 2-acre arboretum, and cleaned trails.

Now they want local residents to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The view from a trail high in the Ordway Preserve.

The view from a trail high in the Ordway Preserve.

The other day, Westporter Bob Fatherley invited me to hike the preserve. We were joined by a few others, including Alec Head of Westport; the Conservancy’s David Gumbart, and Mark Mainieri, the property’s steward.

I learned about the legend of Fred Moore. He was Katharine Ordway’s estate caretaker — as well as Weston’s tree warden and fire marshal.

As we walked, the men talked about the many contributors to the restoration of the preserve. They spoke with pride of the 20 trees donated by Weston Gardens, and the pro bono work provided by Weston Arborists (owned by Fred Moore’s son Jeff).

Hiking the Ridge Trail.

Hiking the Ridge Trail.

The arboretum is particularly impressive. Now rid of high brush and invasive plants, it’s a serene habitat for birds and butterflies. (The preserve also hosts deer, coyotes, and plenty of wild turkeys.)

They talked reverently of Katharine Ordway (who endowed not only this preserve, but also Devil’s Den). “She was a woman of means, but also a woman of the earth,” Bob said. “She was one of the first people to take private capital, and make it work for open space.”

“This is a spot of spiritual refreshment,” Bob added. “It is humbling to take care of it.”

A plaque honors Katharine Ordway.

A plaque honors Katharine Ordway.

Katharine Ordway’s ashes were scattered at her favorite site — a place she visited every October, to enjoy spectacular foliage. It’s high on a hill surrounded by mountain laurel, near a large boulder that bears a plaque. Soon, the Nature Conservancy hopes, a small bench will allow hikers to sit and honor the woman who worked so hard to preserve this land, and hundreds of thousands of other acres around the country.

Katharine’s imprint on the American conservation movement remains large. And — although most of us don’t know it — it is especially strong in the town Katharine Ordway called home.

Literally, in her own back yard.

(The Katharine Ordway Preserve is located at 165 Goodhill Road in Weston. It is open from dawn to dusk — no bikes or pets, though. Note that the base of the entrance is severely rutted!)

Some of the preserve's most ardent supporters, at Kay's Trail. From left: Bob Fatherley, David Gumbart, Lou Bregy, Dave Thompson, Alec Head and Mark Mainieri.

Some of the preserve’s most ardent supporters. From left: Bob Fatherley, David Gumbart, Lou Bregy, Dave Thompson, Alec Head and Mark Mainieri.

Chip Stephens And Al Gratrix: Westport’s Newest “De-signers”

The town ordinance on signs is pretty clear.

Local organizations can post them for fundraisers: Library book sales, Yankee Doodle Fair, Sunrise Rotary duck race.

Political signs are okay — during election season. As with charity signs, they must be removed promptly.

no signsCommercial signs are strictly regulated. They must be portable. They can’t be attached to a utility pole or fence. They can be displayed only during hours that a business is open. They must be on a “framed chalk board or eraser board.” All of the wording must be hand-drawn. And commercial signs must be located on the property where the business is located.

That’s the theory, anyway.

Anyone with more than 20/2000 vision knows those rules are frequently flouted. Several years ago — in the depths of the recession — 1st Selectman Gordon Joseloff eased the sign regulation. But the ordinance in place now — cited above — is pretty clear.

Al Gratrix is head of the Planning and Zoning Commission‘s enforcement committee. Chip Stephens is the the P&Z chair.

A couple of weeks ago, they started picking up illegal signs. They pulled 100 or so: non-handwritten business signs. Signs advertising office space. Signs for roofers and handymen, tacked 8 feet high on telephone polls.

Al Gratrix with some of the illegal signs.

Al Gratrix with some of the illegal signs…

Just as quickly, the signs reappeared.

Al and Chip went back on the prowl. On Saturday, they yanked 80 more.

Their task may be Sisyphean. (Or, to use a truer Westport reference, dandlelion-esque.)

But it’s an important one. Want to know one of the biggest blights on Westport’s beauty?

The signs are all around us.

...and more signs.

…and more signs.

 

August Laska Is GLAAD To Help

As a student at Staples, August Laska produced benefit concerts for Red Cross Haiti relief, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

August Laska

August Laska

Before entering Middlebury College last January, he spent the fall as executive intern at a Broadway production company.

Now — working this summer at a different production firm — he’s combining his talent and skills for a new benefit.

On Monday, August 4 (7:30 p.m.), Joe’s Pub hosts “Broadway Gets GLAAD”: 10 stars providing a night of music. All proceeds benefit GLAAD, an organization fighting for positive gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender images in the media.

August is definitely stepping onto a bigger stage.

Mia Gentile

Mia Gentile

He and co-producer Kayla Greenspan have booked an all-star cast. It includes Mia Gentile — the 2007 Staples grad now starring in Forbidden Broadway — along with Marja Harmon (Book of Mormon), Ciara Renée (Pippin) and others. They’ll perform a variety of Broadway classics, old favorites and pop tunes.

All are working for free. “That’s not easy,” August notes. “Actors always like to get paid.”

In addition to helping select the singers and songs, August booked the venue. Joe’s Pub is one of the top spots in New York for shows like this.

GLAAD is an organization close to August’s heart.

“The Broadway community closely connected with gay issues,” the former Staples Players star says. “Instead of just giving money to a good cause, having an event like this is a great way to help promote accurate, diverse representation of LGBT people in the entertainment world.”

(For more information on “Broadway Gets GLAAD,” and to purchase tickets, click here.)

Broadway Gets GLAAD

 

 

 

Westport’s Horrific Trolley Crash: 100 Years Ago Yesterday

Exactly 100 years ago yesterday — on July 22, 1914 — Westport suffered one of its worst tragedies ever.

But until “06880” reader Mary Palmieri Gai pointed it out, I’d never heard of it.

On that day — a Wednesday — a horrendous, high-speed head-on collision between a 3-car trolley and a freight trolley killed 4 people, and seriously injured 21.

The front page of the Meriden Weekly Republican.

The front page of the Meriden Weekly Republican.

It took place at the intersection of State Street (now Post Road West) and King Street (now Riverside Avenue). The Meriden Weekly Republican called it “a deep curve on a down grade.”

Many of the trolley’s 279 passengers were children, returning to East Bridgeport from a church picnic at Norwalk’s Roton Point. The dead were between 11 and 21 years old.

The Republican said the accident occurred when the motorman of the passenger trolley “put on all speed while going downhill in an endeavor to reach a siding before the arrival of the trolley freight, which he knew was coming.”

According to the New York Times, both cars were “telescoped for four or five feet.” The 4 dead were all in the front seat. Westport medical examiner Dr. Frank Powers called it “a miracle” that not more were killed.

The Republican added, “the air was filled with splinters and dust….a panic ensued after the crash. The shrieks and groans of the injured could be heard for blocks.”

In the early 20th century, trolleys were an important part of Westport transportation. This is the terminal at Compo Beach.

In the early 20th century, trolleys were an important part of Westport transportation. This is the terminal at Compo Beach.

Injured passengers helped others. Mrs. Robert Wakelee — who suffered broken legs and broken thighs — threw 2 children from the floor to the ground outside. Moments later, debris from the roof landed where the youngsters had lain.

Howard Taylor, who lived nearby, lifted a dozen people from the wreckage.

Every doctor in the area was summoned. Ambulances and private cars sped to Norwalk Hospital.

Mary Palmieri Gai adds one last piece of news: Among the injured — suffering from a broken nose and shock — was Lillian Abbott of Providence, Rhode Island.

Just 2 years earlier, she had survived the sinking of Titanic.

Bridgewater Stays Put — For Now

So Bridgewater Associates is not moving to Stamford after all.

Westport’s biggest employer — a hedge fund that manages $120 billion in global investments — has decided that despite $115 million in tax incentives offered by Gov. Malloy,  it will not move its 1,225 employees to a controversial site in Stamford.

(The controversy, in case you have not been paying attention to corporate welfare news, is 3-fold: the site in the South End would displace a large boatyard; it might have violated the state’s Coastal Management Act, and Gov. Malloy is the former [cough cough] mayor of Stamford.)

Bridgewater’s employees are spread among 2 sites here. Some work at Nyala Farms off I-95 Exit 18, but the majority are in the gorgeous Glendinning site on Weston Road. (That’s why you see upscale buses traveling up and down Roseville Road every morning and afternoon.)

The Bridgewater building on Weston Road. Most Westporters have no idea it's here.

The Bridgewater building on Weston Road. Most Westporters have no idea it’s here.

That Glendinning office is truly a gem. Hidden from view (except on the Ford Road side), it’s serene and verdant. I can’t imagine a nicer hedge fund environment anywhere.

What will Bridgewater do now? Perhaps renovate the property. (Keeping in mind — we hope — the restrictions agreed upon when it was built more than 40 years ago, as a rare office complex in a residential neighborhood. Glendinning was a major marketer, when Westport was the marketing capital of the world.)

Perhaps add a “meditation area.” (Founder Ray Dalio does things other hedge fund owners don’t.)

Perhaps Bridgewater will keep looking for a new site.

Whatever they do, let’s hope they don’t ask for a $115 million subsidy from the state.

Or even $15.

That’s the kind of thing that gives hedge funds a bad name.